Good Friday morning!
Last night, during a live town hall on NBC, President Donald Trump repeatedly declined to condemn the QAnon conspiracy theory group. “I know nothing about it,” he said. “I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard.”
In a live town hall aired on ABC, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said: “I do compliment the president on the [UAE peace] deal with Israel recently.”
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, gave $75 million to the pro-Trump Preserve America PAC, which is flooding battleground states with anti-Biden ads. Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus donated $5 million to the group.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberggave the Jewish Democratic Council of America $250,000 to reach Jewish voters in Florida.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who announced yesterday that he is battling cancer.
Check out Jewish Insider’s ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into over the past week.
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spilling the tea
Barbara Amiel, wife of Conrad Black, lays it all on the line
Barbara Amiel does not hold back. The longtime columnist, socialite and tabloid mainstay has never been one to mince words. But never has Amiel — a self-proclaimed “scandalous ideological provocateur” — let loose quite as much as in her new memoir, out this week, titled Friends and Enemies: A Life in Vogue, Prison and Park Avenue.
Rubbing elbows: The salacious, biting and oftentimes rambling recounting of Amiel’s nearly 80 years on earth spares no detail. Equal parts self-deprecating and catty, Amiel catalogues her sexual exploits, her multiple marriages, extravagant spending habits, drug abuse, plastic surgery and even her brief stint in a Mozambique prison in 1980. She casually name drops eminent 16th-century Rabbi Moshe Isserles (a direct ancestor through Amiel’s mother), Princess Diana (a dinner party guest) and Henry Kissinger (a close friend).
Plotting revenge:Amiel — the wife of Conrad Black, the financier and former newspaper mogul who wound up in U.S. federal prison — takes aim at all those who’ve wronged her in the book’s 600 pages, and tops it all off with a very literal list of, you guessed it, her friends and enemies. She casually muses about having journalists murdered, judges imprisoned and injecting “our persecutors” with the Ebola virus. In a chapter titled “The Bloody Anti-Semitism Chapter,” Amiel recounts the anti-Israel sentiments she encountered during her time in England, including from the Duke of Gloucester, who upon hearing that her husband was a newspaper owner, told Amiel: “The lowest form of humanity, rather like the Israelis.”
No Jews allowed:After settling in Palm Beach, Amiel writes, she was horrified to learn that her husband was a member of the Everglades Club, which did not admit Jews. “Here I was, married to this wonderful man who had only one problem: the town in which he lived for a few months each year had clubs to which he belonged that would not admit his wife.” After Black waged a movement to allow Amiel to be admitted, she writes, “the Palm Beach Jewish community rose as one” to condemn her for joining. “With customary skill, I’d managed to piss everyone off.”
Drawing the line:Amiel had more than a passing acquaintance with Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently on trial for sex trafficking charges linked to her long association with Jeffrey Epstein. Amiel introduced Maxwell to Evelyn and Leonard Lauder and the four of them had a “damn uncomfortable” tea, she writes. And despite Maxwell dropping her after Black’s downfall, she writes that: “I have never believed Ghislaine guilty of any crime more than wanting to please Jeffrey or maintain whatever the relationship was.” Although Amiel did draw the line at socializing with certain figures: “Anyone who has the slightest inkling of my politics knows that I would have to be gagged, drugged and tortured before inviting George Soros to my home,” she wrote. “Quite mutual, I expect.”
A restorative moment leads to a Manhattan DA candidate’s call for restorative justice
In March, Lucy Lang, a 39-year-old former assistant district attorney for Manhattan, contracted COVID-19. A couple of months later, Lang — emboldened by her recovery from COVID and inspired by demonstrations against police brutality — decided to enter the race for Manhattan district attorney, announcing her candidacy in August. “A combination of the realization that life is short and that change is urgent compelled me to join the race,” she told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview in Manhattan’s Battery Park. “It was a result of the unique conflagration of circumstances that my family, the city and I experienced over the course of the spring and the summer.”
Humane approach: A former career prosecutor, Lang — granddaughter of the late educational philanthropist Eugene Lang — advocates for a more humane approach to criminal justice, one she characterizes as lending more dignity to those who become enmeshed in the legal system. It’s a view she came by during 12 years in the Manhattan DA’s office during which she served under Robert Morgenthau and then Cyrus Vance, Jr., the current DA who has not yet indicated whether he will run for reelection.
Ties to Vance: The former assistant DA declined to reveal whether she had spoken about her decision to run with her former boss. Vance’s tenure has come under scrutiny in recent years thanks in part to his decision, in 2015, not to pursue sexual abuse charges against Harvey Weinstein. Vance also opted not to indict Trump’s children for felony fraud, which has drawn criticism. “There were meetings that occurred between well-heeled defense attorneys and senior members of the district attorney’s staff in which the line prosecutors and investigators who handled the cases were not present, and decisions were made,” Lang said of the cases. “I have no inside knowledge on any of those matters.” Lang made sure to point out that she would not tolerate “even the appearance of impropriety” if elected to run the DA’s office.
Background: In 2018, Lang created a prison class in which incarcerated college students studied alongside district attorneys — a program that led to her appointment the same year as executive director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College, founded with a seed investment from the district attorney’s asset forfeiture funds. “I spent the past few years working with prosecutors and communities across the country on reform issues geared toward ending mass incarceration and decreasing racial disparities in the system,” Lang said. “It makes me uniquely situated to lead the implementation of overdue change in criminal justice in New York City.”
Hate crimes: Lang’s views on hate crimes — including antisemitic attacks, which have recently seen a sharp uptick in New York — are guided by a community-based approach. “I would invest in expanding the existing hate crime unit to not just prosecute hate crimes as appropriate,” said Lang — who avers that her Jewish heritage influenced her to study the law — “but to really go into communities to engage people to ensure that people are comfortable reporting.” She added: “It’s very hard to speak in broad strokes about these things, and I think that goes to why the district attorney’s office needs, for lack of a better term, a more expansive menu of options in how individual cases are handled.”
ON THE Hill
Congress hears proposals to reform social media
Disinformation experts and members of Congress suggested creating a new federal agency to oversee social media companies — in order to curtail the rise and expansion of online conspiracy theories — during a House Intelligence Committee hearing yesterday, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Oversight needed: Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) was the first member to float the creation of a new agency to create rules governing platforms, rather than leaving those responsibilities to the companies themselves. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) later joined Welch in calling for further oversight. “If Reddit was able to identify QAnon as a problem back in 2018 and take them off of their platform, and yet we’re two years later and we still have other platforms just now waking up to it, I think that suggests that we do need to have some uniformity in how we address many of these issues,” Speier said during the hearing.
Expert opinion: Witnesses at the hearing agreed that a new federal agency could help address a range of issues. “I’m very much in favor of a new agency that would evaluate what the actual impact is on other sectors and on our information economies, and then come up with recommendations,” Joan Donovan, a researcher at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, testified. “We need especially regulation around the advertising component, especially as it relates to honesty, not just in terms of what the content is, but who is behind it, who is paying for it.”
Playing hooky? The entire Republican delegation to the committee was absent during the hearing. Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) characterized his colleagues’ absences as “a disservice to their constituents and more broadly to the discourse.” Jack Langer, spokesman for Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), cited security concerns for the Republicans’ decision not to attend the hearing, which was unclassified and open to the public. “HPSCI Republicans do not believe it’s a good idea to conduct the committee’s business in an insecure manner over the Internet,” Langer said in a statement.
✡️ Joining the Tribe:Jessica Diner, the beauty and lifestyle director for British Vogue, opens up about her Orthodox conversion to Judaism in 2013. “In Judaism, you talk about things being beshert, or destiny. As dramatic as it sounds, this was my destiny.” [Vogue]
🗳️ Ballot Counting:Reuters’s Rami Ayyub explores the battle heating up for the votes of U.S. citizens living in Israel. “Israel is in focus because many dual nationality American-Israelis are registered in swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania, which could help decide the race.” [Reuters]
🧊 Ice Cold:In Politico, Alex Isenstadt reveals how the rapper Ice Cube — who shared antisemitic posts earlier this year — joined forces with President Donald Trump on a proposal to boost African Americans. Ice Cube was connected to Jared Kushner through former Observer editor-in-chief Ken Kurson. [Politico]
Around the Web
🛐 Prayer Protests: Three synagogues in Rockland County are suing the state of New York for “antisemitic discrimination” in its COVID-19 crackdown, as Hasidic backlash against such efforts continues to grow in Brooklyn.
😷 Reopening 2.0: Israel will reopen preschools and businesses without walk-in customers on Sunday, as it begins to ease its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
🤝 Don’t Forget: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said yesterday: “the focus now needs to be on getting the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiating table.”
👍 Done Deal: Members of Israel’s Knesset voted 80-13 to approve the peace deal with the UAE, with only lawmakers from the Arab Joint List voting against.
✈️ In The Air: El Al will transport a delegation of Israeli and American diplomats to and from Bahrain on Sunday.
📂 Sigh of Relief: Israel’s attorney general announced yesterday that he won’t press charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a conflict of interest related to buying and reselling shares of a company owned by his American cousin, Nathan Milikowsky.
💻 Over Zoom:Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke to leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations yesterday.
⚠️ Whistle Blow: In an op-ed, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen called on people to “wake up” to the threat of the “anti-Semitic, racist, conspiracy-touting cult” of QAnon.
☑️ Ballot Boost: Congressional candidate Mondaire Jones, who is running to succeed retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) in New York’s 17th district, was endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) yesterday.
🚫 Taking Action: Twitter has followed Facebook in announcing that it will ban posts that deny the Holocaust.
🎥 Hollywood: Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly revealed to a late Holocaust survivor who appeared in his new “Borat” movie that she had actually filmed a clip for the satire film — designed to mock Holocaust denial — despite a lawsuit from her family over the movie.
🇵🇱 Giving Thanks: Roman Polanski returned to Poland yesterday for a ceremony honoring the Polish couple, Stefania and Jan Buchala, who saved him during the Holocaust.
💰 He’s Back: Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has invested $30 million in the real estate startup Alfred.
⚖️ Plea Deal:Major Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy is expected to plead guilty to illegal foreign lobbying at a virtual hearing on Tuesday.
🖼️ Final Justice: A Nazi-looted painting discovered at a museum in upstate New York was returned to the descendants of its original Jewish owners.
🏺 New Look:The Frankfurt Jewish Museum is reopening after a five-year, €50m refurbishment.
👩⚖️ Paying Tribute: A statue of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is planned to be installed in her native Brooklyn.
🥪 Big Bite: The Miami Jewish deli Stephens Deli and nearby eatery Kush are merging into a new restaurant with dishes like a “Jewban” sandwich and “goy-ish croquetas.”
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews 2015 Capcanes La Flor Del Flor Samso:
Sitting in the Succah, drinking to my heart’s content, made for a joyful conclusion to the Succoth holiday, not trivial in these difficult times. In the unusually warm Bay Area autumn, we drank an extraordinary Israeli Chardonnay, a blush from Provence, and then we did something rather daring. We finished the meal with a Spanish Carignan. A controversial grape presented at a controversial time. This was a decision that risked upsetting the whole meal. Fortunately, the wine was elegant and calming, a late crescendo.
The 2015 Capcanes La Flor Del Flor Samso is a prototypical Carignan. The color is surprisingly dark, akin to a Petit Verdot. It is full of fresh blueberry flavors. The finish is soft and silky with a sweet plum overtone. You can drink this wine now. Why not get the most out of life? It pairs well with cheesy cauliflower rice.
General partner at Battery Ventures Israel’s office, Scott Tobin turns 50 today…
FRIDAY: Israeli attorney, chairman of Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball, Shimon Mizrahi turns 81… Retired CFO of the airline industry’s ticket transaction settlement firm, Airlines Reporting Corporation, Alfred Altschul turns 81… Film director and producer, creator of “The Naked Gun” franchise, David Zucker turns 73… Professor of economics at Smith College, Andrew S. Zimbalist turns 73… National president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton A. Klein… Director of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Dr. Marvin C. Feuer turns 70… Director of Clark University Hillel, Jeff Narod turns 65… Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, David Linsky turns 63… Bestselling French novelist, Marc Levy turns 59… Actress Kala Lynne Savage turns 42… Senior product manager at Phone2Action, Jason Langsner turns 39… Founder and CEO at Social Studies, Inc., Brandon Jared Perlman turns 39… Four-time U.S. Army light-middleweight boxing champion who boxed with a Star of David on his trunks, Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson turns 39… West Coast regional director at Foundation for Jewish Camp, Margalit C. Rosenthal turns 35… Avi Fink turns 35… Assistant commissioner for external affairs at the New York City Police Department, Devora Kaye turns 34… Budding New York political strategist, Sam Ginsberg…
SATURDAY: Rheumatologist and founder of the San Diego Arthritis Medical Clinic, Dr. Michael Keller turns 75… Rochester, N.Y., resident, Peggy Futerman turns 63… Movie and television producer, Lawrence Bender turns 63… Rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University, he also serves as the Rebbe of the Talne hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky turns 60… Professor of economics at Harvard and former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Jeremy Chaim Stein turns 60… Northwest deputy director of J Street, Andrew Straus turns 60… Ramsey, New Jersey-based licensed professional counselor with a Ph.D. in biological sciences, Dr. Shemsi Prinzivalli turns 59… Hedge fund manager, he is the co-founder of AQR Capital Management, Cliff Asness turns 54… Founder of Maniv Investments and Israeli VC fund Maniv Mobility, Michael Granoff turns 52… CEO and founder of DC-based public affairs firm Crosscut Strategies, Kenneth Baer turns 48… Author and staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, Ariel Levy turns 46… VP and head of U.S. public policy at TikTok, Michael Beckerman turns 42… Born in Haifa, raised in Sunnyvale, California, he is the co-founder and CEO at Merit, Tomer Kagan turns 37… Senior legislative assistant for foreign policy in the office of Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Katharine Nasielski turns 31… Executive director and co-founder at OpenMind Platform, Caroline Mehl turns 30… Senior deputy data director and software engineer at the Colorado Democratic Party, Adam Greenspan turns 26…
SUNDAY: Co-founder and former chairman of Qualcomm, Irwin M. Jacobs turns 87… Grammy Award-winning songwriter of over 150 hits, Cynthia Weil turns 80… Former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg turns 70… Professor of practice and counterterrorism studies at Capitol Technology University, Joshua B. Sinai, Ph.D. turns 69… Bakersfield, California-based attorney focused on adoption and reproductive law, Marc D. Widelock turns 69… Television director who has been called the “King of Sitcoms,” Chuck Lorre turns 68… Film producer and founder of Dimension Films, Robert “Bob” Weinstein turns 66… President of a consulting firm, the Economic Future Group, Jonathan Tasini turns 64… Senior lecturer at MIT, he was Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler turns 63… President at Berman Capital Advisors, LLC, David Fisher turns 55… ESPN television host and anchor, Rachel Nichols turns 47… VP of administration and counsel at the American Enterprise Institute, Suzanne Gershowitz turns 39… Correspondent at GQ, Julia Ioffe turns 38… The New York Times‘s White House reporter, Annie Karni turns 37… Operations project manager at Moovit, Ayal Kellman turns 35…